World tourism unites @ ITB Berlin

ITB Berlin confirms the vital need to meet face-to-face

As the travel fraternity waited with bated breath the return of ITB – the bench mark show for the travel and hospitality industry, most of them returned with smiling faces as ITB Berlin concluded on a reasonably high note, feels Chandragupta Amritkar.

Since 1966, ITB Berlin has been the World’s Leading Travel Trade Show and truly remains the bench mark show for the travel and hospitality industry – a trendsetter in many ways, a venue to share and gain knowledge, an opportunity to network with colleagues, peers and bright youngsters and 2023 was no different with ITB Berlin concluding on a reasonably high note, as most of them returned with smiling faces.

I was again invited to cover ITB Berlin (13th year to visit). It was pure joy to be a part of the largest travel event after 3 years and catch up with old friends at a single venue. Met the ITB team - David Ruetz, Senior VP, Messe Berlin, Julia Sonnemann, PR Manager, ITB Berlin, Yasmine Abbou, PR Assistant, Messe Berlin.

The show attracted 5500 exhibitors from 169 countries. Certainly a little less than its former glory but it was expected as COVID had startled the world (lockdown, travel constraints) and after almost 3 years it was an excitement for the travel industry though still a few countries could not exhibit prominently (eg China opening up its borders late, Russia at war etc). But most exhibitors and visitors we spoke to were glad to be back in Berlin. Many top leaders, ministers, mayors graced the occasion.

Following the break due to the pandemic and taking as its slogan ’Open for Change’, ITB was back for the first time as an exclusively B2B event. Instead of 5 days, ITB took place on only 3 days last week. The consumer participation on the 4th and 5th day of ITB was left out and cancelled. While a few were indifferent, some exhibitors, especially German felt those two days should be included.

Over the three business days a total of 90,127 attendees from more than 180 countries were in Berlin. For ITB Berlin, the ITB Buyers‘Circle with its 1,300 members was also an impressive success. ITB Berlin also attracted considerable media attention, with around 3,000 media members and 333 travel bloggers and high-profile international political figures at the event.

“Over the past few days, the tourism industry has displayed incredible confidence despite the difficult overall situation and geopolitical crises“, said Dirk Hoffmann, Managing Director of Messe Berlin. Numerous networking formats including the ITB Speed Networking event, get-togethers and events on exhibitors’ stands as well as evening events on the exhibition grounds and in Berlin’s city centre were proof of the desire to meet in person.

The ITB Berlin Convention with high-profile figures attending offered wide-ranging orientation on specialist subjects. At 18 theme tracks, 400 internationally recognised top speakers took part in a total of 200 sessions and discussed highly pressing topics as well as current trends including digitalisation, Artificial intelligence and the skills shortage. Under the heading ’Mastering Transformation’, experts presented ways to turn the pressing global challenges facing the industry into opportunities. A total of 24,000 attendees visited the lectures, panels and discussions at the leading international thinktank of the travel industry.

The Equality in Tourism Award, presented for the first time on International Women’s Day at ITB Berlin 2023, aims to draw global attention to gender equality in tourism. Three candidates made the final – the award went to the tour operator Travel Excellence from Costa Rica, followed by Adventure Women from the USA and Ecuador.

Exhibitor numbers were especially high in the Travel Tech and Cruise segments at this year’s show. The new multi-purpose hall hub27 also made a successful debut.

ITB Berlin 2024 is scheduled from 5 to 7 March (Tuesday to Thursday).

Global Features Magazine: Back in full swing

While at ITB our latest issue received positive response, for me and my magazine Global Features it was a wonderful 2022-23. Literally been on the move visiting Twelve countries since May 2022 to March 2023 - Dubai, UAE, Muscat/Salalah, Oman, Erfurt/Berlin/Munich, Germany, Slovakia, Hungary, Singapore, Thailand, Sweden, Norway (where I was the only Indian journalist invited to attend the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony), USA, Maldives and Ethiopia.

Truly overwhelmed by the love and appreciation showered by the industry.